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Culture

Eurovision and Pop Idol Fever Hits Germany

Germany is bracing itself for some racy television action as it selects its entry for the Eurovision Song Contest in a live final broadcast on Friday night and picks its "Pop Idol" on Saturday.

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Elmar Brandt, Germany's top candidate for the Eurovision song contest, wants to send Schröder to Latvia.

Germany is gearing up for a double-helping of trash television this weekend.

On Friday evening, the nation will decide who will represent Germany in this year's Eurovision song contest, the Europe-wide annual music event.

And on Saturday evening, after months of tabloid hype and massive audience ratings, millions are likely to be glued to their sets as the final of the German version of cult reality TV show "Pop Idol",("Deutschland Sucht den Superstar" -- 'Germany Searches for its Superstar') gets underway.

The build-up to both competitions has been marred by

Alexander Klaws Deutschland sucht den Superstar

illness. "Superstar" finalist Alexander Klaws (photo), who is regarded as the 'housewife's choice', has been languishing in bed all week with flu, prompting speculation that fellow finalist Daniel Küblböck, would step in to replace him. Until last week, when the 17-year-old Bavarian was voted off the show, Küblböck was the most prominent of the teen pop idolettes. But at the last minute, doctors gave Klaws the all-clear, dashing Küblböck's second chance to become Germany's Pop Idol.

The live "Superstar" final between 19-year-old Klaws and 22- year-old Juliette Schoppmann, a musical singer from Hamburg, will be broadcast on private channel, RTL2 live from Cologne. As in the British and American versions of the same show, the winner receives a recording contract and will be catapulted into the lime light.

Further north, in Kiel, Elmar Brandt is doubtless the most interesting candidate to represent Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest on May 24 in Riga, Latvia. Brandt too is under the weather, recovering from a bout of tonsilitis.

Better known as the Gerhard Schröder impersonator -- who shot into the limelight some months ago with his "tax song" -- Brandt will perform alongside a rubber "Spitting Image"-style puppet of the German chancellor if he makes it to the Eurovision. However, his record company, Warner Music told DW-WORLD on Friday he was now well enough to perform

"Send Schröder to Latvia"

Brandt is one of 14 finalists who will battle it out in the preliminary contest broadcast live from Kiel this evening. He is, however, the only one to have made into the top 40 with his Eurovision offering, "Alles wird Gut" ("Everything will be OK".) The song, which is a satirical attack on the failings of the Schröder government as it battles to help its ailing economy out of recession, is currently at number 18 in the German charts.

He is currently the bookies' favourite and German tabloid, Bild has been backing Brandt's campaign to "Schick Schröder nach Lettland" (Send Schröder to Latvia.) Various German celebrities, including German prince of Pop, Dieter Bohlen and Pop Idol wannabe, Daniel Küblböck are backing the 31-year-old from Köln who also has a satirical sketch radio show, "Die Gerd Show" (The Gerd Show.)

With political satire usually the reserve of the left wing, Brandt's use of it is surprising, not least because it lambasts the current German government over its reform packages and tax hikes. The conservative CDU party used part of the song, offering it as a free download on its official website, before being forced to remove it after the record company complained.

However, Brandt contends that he is not affiliated to any political party, conservative or otherwise.

"We see ourselves as neutral, as political observers," Peter Bortz who wrote the lyrics to "Alles wird Gut" told DW- WORLD. "We've done things in the past which have been very positive towards the chancellor," he added.

And for those for whom Eurovision is all about the collective experience, help is at hand. For €6 ($6.3), die-hard Eurovision fans will be able to follow the 14 finalists fight it out on the big screen in the German capital, where one cinema will broadcast the Eurovision pre-lims live.

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